September 1st 2020 has officially come and gone. This was the touted and highly anticipated date the BVI Government would start to allow re-entry to tourists. That our borders would be back open. Instead today we begin another 14 day curfew (1pm – 5am) with no end in sight. With no PLAN in sight to re-open.
From the last blog entry, on March 14th we were just starting a 30 day ban on cruise ships. We were hoping it wouldn’t get any worse than that. Just one week later, our small Island closed its borders. We still haven’t opened them nearly 6 months later. If you had traveled abroad and couldn’t make it home in time, you are STILL shut out of the Island. We underwent nearly a month of 24/7 lock-down where you could not leave your house. Only one day was given to you for grocery shopping in between. It was a mess as you can only imagine 25,000 people trying to shop over 3 days and we have been on constant curfew except for a couple of weeks.
Only belongers have been granted access to return home with two week self quarantining at home (which a few people did not adhere to). Most expats/work permit holders are still waiting. A few have been granted access – usually those whose jobs generate a lot of money for the government, ie, lawyers etc. Then the government decided to let in a few more people and have been making them pay an exorbitant amount of money for quarantine. Up to $10,000 for 24/7 security services at their houses. Since a huge outcry on social media, the price has now dropped to around $3,500 for home security and $2,500 for their government quarantine in local hotels.
Around the beginning of June the government decided to open up the waters to commercial and private vessels. Everyone was running staycation specials to try to earn a few pennies. BUT, then we closed down again after a cluster of covid cells came out of nowhere. A few locals were instrumental in bringing it into the territory through smuggling their friends back into Tortola from St Thomas. We currently have over 4 dozen active cases, with the Government saying there is probably close to another 1,500 infected that haven’t yet been tested.
The BVI economy is reliant on tourism, which accounts for close to half of its economy. Since hurricanes Irma and Maria, the tourism sector had bounced back and we were on track for a great 19/20 season with a projected 1 million visitors. Bringing their hard earned money to spend in our economy. We can’t survive without tourists. It’s that simple. And the Government does not have a plan in place. Businesses are not able to make an educated decision on how to move forward. We are stuck in the perpetual groundhog day. All tourism based businesses are in limbo with zero leadership coming from those in charge.
We cannot sustain this Island by being reactive and closing down every time we have an active case. It puts those who can work back out of work for weeks on end. Hundreds of people cannot afford to pay their rent and put food on the table. This Island is slowly being brought to its knees through fear mongering, incompetence, bad management and indecision.
We are diligently working on PLAN B at this point and when it is closer to fruition we will make our announcement and share our plans to move Adventure Charters forward through these trying times.
We are 4 days from the third anniversary of hurricane Irma. Who knew that our lives could get worse than that. Who knew that just 3 years later we would witness the sheer craziness of the world melting down around us.